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Air quality alarm for soldering

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--- Quote from: higheredundead on October 03, 2023, 01:26:04 pm ---As for lead in the air, it appears that OSHA does believe that it can occur.  Reference: https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/standardinterpretations/1989-07-11-0

Like many of you I am also aware of lead getting onto hands and surfaces and so am careful about washing my hands after coming into contact with solder.  It seems, however, that it's not just flux that gets into the air.  It's possible for lead fumes to, as well.

Other studies have pointed to inhalation of lead during and around soldering:

* https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jolsana-Augustine/publication/332188022_SOLDERING_FUME_EXPOSURE_AS_A_CAUSE_OF_ACUTE_HYPERSENSITIVITY_PNEUMONITIS/links/5d63dae9458515d610259517/SOLDERING-FUME-EXPOSURE-AS-A-CAUSE-OF-ACUTE-HYPERSENSITIVITY-PNEUMONITIS.pdf
* https://www.scientific.net/AMM.319.115

I get that it's not generally spoken about or worried about and that we assume that our existing ventilation and filtration approaches are working, but, as an engineer, I'm a big fan of measuring things rather than just making assumptions.  If I measure it and my worries are overblown, then I've learned something.

--- End quote ---
The thing is, none of those sources mention what temperatures are used. Electronics soldering is performed at low temperatures, where lead is unlikely or even incapable of vaporizing. (Some sources say 400C, others 450C, others 500C, all much higher than normally used in electronics with leaded solder.) In contrast, a sheet metal worker soldering copper would typically use a blow torch, whose flame is around 2000C, easily capable of heating small amounts of solder well into vaporization temperatures. Since none of those sources even specify what kind of soldering it is, we have no clue what temperature range they were considering.

I concur that in electronics soldering, the real concern is flux fumes.

Some relevant resources:


Notably absent from all of their discussion of soldering risk (which they otherwise cover amply) is lead. And indeed, the page on lead doesn’t list soldering as an at-risk occupation:

I do have two air quality monitors, one of them is portable and quite old.
The stationary one is this:https://www.amazon.de/gp/product/B09LCLYXJ6

Beside several parameters, they are measuring small particles in the air. Both were (the non portable one still is) used in my workshop. I can tell you: Both of them alert after aprox. 15 minutes when you do manual soldering. When I run my soldering oven (which even has a fume outlet to the outside! but some can still smell it if reflowing) they both will alert me very quickly. I need to run my air cleaner with hepa filter and activated carbon filter on full power for a while to clean the air.
These small particles from soldering can reach the alveoli. They are at most the size of bacteria and therefore cannot be seen with the naked eye. The particles have a tendency to carry toxic materials due to its reduced diameter and increased surface area. The small PM easily penetrates deep into the bronchi and alveoli, corroding the alveolar wall in the lungs.
In epidemiological studies, severe health effects are associated with particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers.
I can only smile when people take a fan to blow away the soldering fumes .... they breathe in the fume parts 30 seconds later anyway, as it spreads in the air throughout the room. Only a decent air cleaner can help.
By the way, I can recommend a Weller WFE solder fume extraction, mounted directly to my JBC soldering iron - this sucks (and filters) away already >90% of the soldering fumes directly at the soldering tip, immediately after the occurrence.
And I can highly recommend any (even if cheap) air quality monitor if it checks PM 2.5 particles (needs a small pump inside to constantly suck in air). And there will be no way around an air cleaner with HEPA filter.
But of course there will also be those here who think it would not be necessary because they know people who have been soldering for 30 years without any problems without such newfangled stuff  ::).


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